Gucci is launching a diversity initiative after the blackface sweater fiasco tarnished their reputation earlier this year. The Gucci scholarship will be giving away US$20,000 each to underrepresented youths that want to get into the fashion industry. Students from 12 North American locations are eligible to apply, and Toronto is the only Canadian city on the list, CBC News reports.

The scholarship will begin in the upcoming 2020-21 academic year and is part of Gucci's new Changemaker's Initiative. The strategy was launched in March of this year, a month after they sparked public outrage because of their $890 balaclava sweater resembling blackface. 

The Italian fashion house will be giving out a total of $1.5 million in scholarships in this four-year initiative, says a press release.

Gucci is also giving away an additional $5 million in grants to "non-profit community organizations that are focused on three areas of impact: social justice and equity; art and culture; and education, working in diverse communities" according to their website. This will be part of the Impact Fund they are also launching. 

 

Grants will range between $10,000-50,000 and are for one-year funding cycles, beginning January 1, 2020. This is expected to be a five-year plan, with $1 million given away each year.

Applications for both the scholarship and grant programs opened on Monday, October 7. The grant deadline is November 7 and scholarship applications close on December 31.

Gucci's website says the company aims to "fuel community engagement and to create lasting impact and positive social change in the fashion industry and in cities across North America."

Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington are all on the list of the 12 North American cities.

The Changemakers Initiative will have an annual open call to diverse students with unmet financial need. This includes high school seniors as well as "currently enrolled undergraduate students attending an accredited four-year college or university in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree within North America."

Special consideration will be given to those enrolled in or planning to attend a "Historically Black College and University (HBCU)." Students will also be able to reapply for scholarships every year. 

Marco Bizzarri, President and CEO, Gucci issued the following statement yesterday. "We have always believed in the importance of creating a more inclusive and diverse industry so we must invest in and empower the next generation of creatives, designers and leaders."


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